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Doctor and former MP Thomas dies aged 79

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George Thomas, the former Minister of Education

George Thomas, a former Minister of Education and a physician known for the depth of counselling he gave to his patients, has died at the age of 79.

A specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology, Dr Thomas was fondly known to Bermudians for the generations of babies he delivered. Serving as Minister of Education under the United Bermuda Party from 1984 to 1986, he was also an ordained minister, as well as a member of the National Drug Council, and the host of a radio show that reflected his spiritual convictions. He was described by his son, George Thomas Jr, as “the consummate servant of others”.

“Rarely does a day go by in Bermuda without someone stopping me to ask how he is doing and explaining how he touched their life directly in a positive way,” his son said.

“He practised medicine with purpose, pride and passion in a bygone era when caring for patients truly came first. Countless former patients have confirmed that in no uncertain terms.”

During his retirement in Virginia, Dr Thomas remained closely involved in the church, serving as a hospital chaplain at Bon Secours St Mary’s Hospital.

Mr Thomas said his father died at home on Sunday, cared for by his wife Pearl and his daughter, Pamela Thomas.

“He is survived by his only living sibling, my dear Aunt Christina, who still resides in Bermuda,” Mr Thomas said.

The senior Thomas’s initiation to politics came with the General Election of 1983, when he campaigned successfully for Hamilton West alongside his running mate Maxwell Burgess.

After stepping down as minister, he served as a UBP backbencher until 1989.

He pursued another calling alongside medicine, joining the priesthood in 1991, citing his family’s deeply religious background.

An adherent of the holistic worldview long before the term became commonplace, Dr Thomas also took his beliefs to the airwaves, hosting the inspirational show Foundations of Truth Within You.

Former Premier Sir John Swan remembered him as “never afraid to venture”.

“His exposure to politics, particularly as Minister of Education, gave him an opportunity to sense the vitality and promise of young people,” Sir John said.

“He believed that God would always lead him to do and be what he had to be. He was a staunch member of the Evening Light church, together with his brother Austin, who had an inseparable mental bond with him, even though they were in different political parties.

“I wish to extend condolences to his family on behalf of my wife and I. There will be well-wishers throughout Bermuda, particularly those whose lives he touched. The body is gone, but the spirit will always endure.”

His former running mate recalled Dr Thomas as “a consummate Bermudian, through and through, and as genuine as they come”.

“His love for his family was paralleled only by his love for his country,” Mr Burgess told The Royal Gazette.

A dedicated education minister, Dr Thomas brought an ethos of discipline to the job, he said.

“George held the view that the easiest child to teach is a disciplined child,” he added.

“He saw that as critical to one’s academic success.”

Part of Dr Thomas’s political drive emanated from his overriding concern for “the plight of the black male in particular”, Mr Burgess said.

“He took the view that unless your young men were strong, the family would forever be at risk,” he said. “He was determined to get involved and do something by way of making sure that black males could get a fighting chance. But his overall concerns were for his beloved Bermuda.”

Both political parties paid tribute to Dr Thomas in statements, with Lynne Woolridge, chairwoman of the One Bermuda Alliance, hailing him as one whose life was “one of service — to his patients, constituents, church family and all Bermudians who benefited from his kindness, compassion and dedication to serve others”.

Acting leader for the Progressive Labour Party David Burt also gave condolences.

“We thank Dr Thomas for his service to our country, and wish his family peace and comfort during this time.”

George Thomas, the former Minister of Education
The late George Thomas (Photograph supplied)
George Thomas (right) greets Princess Margaret as then premier Sir John Swan looks on (Photograph supplied)